AVONDALE, Ariz. – Chase Elliott was came up short in his bid to become a two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion for the second straight season.
Elliott finished behind his fellow Championship 4 competitors of Joey Logano, Ross Chastain and Christopher Bell in the 2022 championship race at Phoenix Raceway to finish fourth in the final standings. Logano won the race and took home the title for his second Cup Series championship. Chastain finished third, while Bell rounded out the top 10 in the race.
PHOTOS: Championship week with Chase Elliott
Elliott took the championship lead for the first time when he got by Logano on the lap 193 restart. However, on the next restart on lap 200, Chastain made contact with the left rear of Elliott’s car as the No. 9 dove low. That contact sent Elliott spinning into the inside wall on the frontstretch. The resulting right-side damage hindered his car the rest of the way and he finished 28th.
"I’m not sure what happened (with Ross Chastain)," Elliott said. "I haven’t seen it. Unfortunately, it ruined our day. Congratulations to Joey (Logano) and their team. They did a really good job all weekend. He’s a very deserving champion.
"I’m proud of my team for the effort they put in this weekend. I felt like we had gotten our car a lot better throughout the race. For that, I think we should be very proud."
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In the 2022 season, the 26-year-old scored his first regular-season championship. The driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 earned five wins on the season at Dover Motor Speedway in May, Nashville Superspeedway in June, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway in July and Talladega Superspeedway in the October playoff race. His five-race run of top-two finishes from Nashville to Pocono all but cemented the regular-season title and the 15 playoff points that come with it.
However, the road to the Championship 4 wasn’t completely smooth for the Dawsonville, Georgia, native. Opening races in each of the first three rounds proved to be tough sledding, but under crew chief Alan Gustafson's direction the team was able to surge forward and advance. A runner-up finisher at Bristol Motor Speedway pushed Elliott past the Round of 16, while the Talladega win locked him into the Round of 8. Two runner-up stage finishes at Martinsville Speedway in the Round of 8 finale proved to be enough to advance him to the title round for the third straight season.
"It’s very nice to make the (final) round," Elliott said. "It’s a very difficult thing to do. Obviously, I’m not content with that but certainly it’s nice to come out here with a shot. Hopefully, we can come back stronger next year and give ourselves another chance and make it go our way next time."
In 2020, Elliott won the Cup Series title in his first Championship 4 appearance. Last season, he got back to the championship round but finished fourth in the final standings.
Hendrick Motorsports' 14 driver championships are the most among all teams in the Cup Series. Five drivers (most among all teams in the series) account for the team’s titles. Jimmie Johnson is tied with a series-best seven championships (2006-2010, 2013 and 2016), Jeff Gordon has four (1995, 1997-1998 and 2001), while Terry Labonte (1996), Elliott (2020) and Kyle Larson (2021) each have won one with the Rick Hendrick-owned organization.
PHOTOS: Every Cup Series championship for Hendrick Motorsports